Interview with CryptoMate: P2P UK exchange
Thursday 09 July 2015
Banks have made it very hard for crypto exchanges to do business in the UK, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Andrin Ehrenmann is head of marketing and PR for CryptoMate, a new UK P2P crypto exchange. Given the UK’s ambivalent stance on crypto (government is strongly pro, banks are very much not…), we grabbed the opportunity to talk to him about his enterprise. This is one of a series of articles about bitcoin use and enterprise in the UK.
Read also: Buying coins in the UK? Try Bittylicious
Why did you decide to go down the P2P route?
We decided to take the step from selling directly to a P2P model for several reasons. Firstly, we wanted to ensure that we can continue to do business in the long term. Many British exchanges have a single point of failure with a UK business bank account, e.g. Speedy Bitcoin. [As if to prove the point, at the time of writing Speedy Bitcoin had depleted its reserves and wasn’t trading.] With our P2P model we don’t have to fear uncertain closures of bank accounts due crypto related activities. We also don’t have to look abroad for our banking, which means our customers wait minutes, not days, for their payments to confirm.
You don't have to own a pimp cane to work at CryptoMate, but it helps.
Bitcoin itself is decentralized, and we aim to become as decentralized as possible too. An important part of this is that we don’t want to hold customer funds. Customers will always be hesitant to trust a third party when it comes to money. Past events, like MtGox, Mintpal, and other failed exchanges, have had a big impact on the credibility of cryptocurrencies. We see it as our mission to convince people that bitcoin and altcoins are far more than just fraud and scams. Last but not least, every country has different legal views on crypto, and we strongly believe that P2P can help us to expand our service to countries other than just the UK.
How are you different to similar-looking services in the UK, such as Bittylicious and BitBargain?
We set our focus on making CryptoMate as simple as possible. When you visit our website, you are just a few clicks away from ordering your coins. Another goal was to offer bitcoin newbies a platform where they can get their first coins within a few minutes - you typically receive the coins within an hour of placing your order. We also give customers the chance to buy altcoins such as Litecoin and Dash (plus a few more) which is something other exchanges don’t seem to do. We want to help all the smaller altcoin communities grow, too.
Our service is very beginner friendly because we don’t ask you to verify your identity until the sum of your purchases reaches £250. We were all new to Bitcoin at one point in our lives, and the most annoying part about it was a struggle to sign up to an exchange and wait several days to get your identity verified. Outside of a few select methods (with high markup), you had no chance of getting coins within a reasonable time.
We aim to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses. Removing the struggle of finding an easy solution to buy your first coins is a good way to contribute something to this amazing technology.
What are your fees and how do they compare to other services?
Our fees vary, but we always try and remain competitive. We aim to sell at no more than 5% above market rate, but this is really dependant on the current market conditions and the volatility of Bitcoin. With Bitcoin being relatively stable at present we have often been able to hit this target.
How do you deal with trust when dealing P2P?
Trust is very important to us, not just with regards to customers but also with our vendors. Our sellers (vendors) are hand-selected by us and are absolutely trustworthy. We have dealt with them ourselves personally over the years and have full faith in them. Each vendor pays a BTC security deposit which is redeemable on account closure, assuming that the account is closed in good order. If a dispute does arise, we ask that vendors provide indisputable proof that the customer has (or hasn’t) paid, which is done through Skype screen share etc. This way we can guarantee that customers are safe and so are our vendors.
How do I become a seller?
Since we are still a very young business, we currently select our sellers by invitation only. Fraud is something we don’t want in our business or in the industry as a whole, so it is essential to start with a small selection of trusted vendors.
In the near future we hope to make our vendor accounts open to public applications, but at this time we feel that we a strong network of trusted sellers is sufficient for our current customer demand.
How do you hope to expand the service?
We are currently looking for Series A seed funding, with the target being £100,000. Our founder William Thomas has some great plans for the future, however I can’t reveal too much detail on these plans just yet. We are aiming to expand our service to other countries soon, with Australia being our next operating location, which we are hoping to get launched within the coming months.
I’d also like to bring CryptoMate to Switzerland - my homeland - one day. But for the next months our goal is to become a recognised and respected brand within the UK and refining our P2P system before exporting it.
Have you had particularly positive or negative experiences of buying and selling crypto in the UK? Get in touch and let us know.
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